August 1, 2012

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Article

Prosperity 2020 Asks Business Community for 20,200 Volunteers

Heather Stewart

August 1, 2012

Prosperity 2020 unveiled a new web portal to help connect businesses and their employees with volunteer opportunities in local public schools. Prosperity 2020, a business-led movement to advance educational achievement in Utah, announced a “Business Promise” to create an army of 20,200 volunteers who will work in classrooms to help students learn reading, math and science skills.

The ultimate goal of Prosperity 2020 is to increase the percentage of Utahns who earn post-secondary certificates or degrees.

“We’re trying to raise the bar in Utah, where two-thirds of our adult population—that’s 66 percent—will have some sort of post-high school…certificate or degree,” said Gov. Gary R. Herbert, who read to second-grade students at Foxboro Elementary School as part of the announcement.

“Reading is the key to all learning,” said Herbert.

The new web portal can be found on www.prosperity2020.com, through the Our Business Promise link. The portal features volunteer and partnership opportunities in public schools and post-secondary institutions throughout Utah. Schools can visit the portal to list their volunteer needs, while businesses can access the portal to locate volunteer opportunities in their communities.

Dave Hardman, president and CEO of the Ogden/Weber Chamber of Commerce and chair of the Prosperity 2020 Business Promise initiative, said he hopes local businesses will consider giving release time to their employees for volunteer work or will encourage them to volunteer on their own time.

“We as business leaders are asking an awful lot of the legislators and also of the education people—teachers, principals, administrators—in moving forward with Prosperity 2020,” said Hardman. “We believe that it is important for us to also dig in and do our very best. And by doing volunteer work, making contributions to the schools, it helps make that happen.”

In addition to the goal of having two-thirds of Utahns earn post-secondary certificates or degrees by the year 2020, Prosperity 2020 also wants to ensure that 90 percent of elementary students are proficient in reading and math.

Volunteer opportunities are available through all grade levels; in particular, tutors and mentors are needed to help students with reading, math and science skills. Some schools also need in-kind donations of equipment and supplies.

“Our strategy is putting people into the classroom to make sure they get that extra help—and also help with financial and in-kind contributions,” said Hardman.

The Prosperity 2020 web portal was developed at Salt Lake Community College under the direction of Herbert’s Education Excellence Commission. The portal features numerous existing partnerships, including partnerships developed across the state by chambers of commerce and businesses to address local needs.

Hardman also encouraged businesses to get involved with nonprofits that have created proven programs, such as the Ken Garff Road to Success, Junior Achievement, KSL Read Today and many others that can be found on the web portal.

“We want to create new partnerships and expand existing ones,” he said.

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